A remembrance by former Imagineer Mark Hickson:
Beverly Butrum, was a Disneyland hostess for nearly four decades. Beverly was born in California in 1924 and was a third generation Californian. Her parents were the 13th family to move to the Village of Lakewood, to be close to her father’s role as Southern California manager for Golden State Dairies. After graduation, Beverly served as a USO hostess during World War II at Long Beach Community College’s army canteen. It was there that she met her husband of 57 years, the late Clarence Arthur Butrum.
After raising three children, Beverly returned to work in 1967. Just weeks after the death of Walt Disney, Beverly was selected to serve as a hostess at the newly opened New Orleans Square in Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Considered “old” by Disney standards at the time, Beverly at 42 years old was cast as a matronly Southern Belle selling antiques in Disney’s One-of- a-Kind Shop, located next to the new state-of-the-art attraction, the Pirates of the Caribbean. So new was this phenomenon of American women returning to the workforce in mid-life that Beverly was highlighted in the Orange County Register.
During her years at the One-of-a-Kind Shop and later at the Disneyland Art Gallery, Beverly became friends with the artists and “Imagineers” of Walt Disney Productions, including Walt Disney’s brother, Roy Oliver Disney. In fact, Roy told Beverly in confidence that they were secretly buying orange groves in Florida to build what would eventually become Walt Disney World.
Beverly became the expert in residence for all things Disneyana. Park visitors would grow up and bring their children to meet her and hear her stories about the history of Walt Disney’s original park and its creative team. After 37 years with Disneyland, Beverly retired in 2003. Hundreds attended her retirement celebration at Café Orleans and she was given a Main Street USA window in her honor, which she took home!
Beverly always said that Disneyland and her children were her life. She always inspired not only her children but others that “their dreams really could come true.” In 2004, Beverly moved with her daughter, Kimberly Butrum, son-in-law, the Reverend Dr. Terrence Sherry and grandson, Trevor to Austin. She remained there until she passed away in February, 2013 at 88.
I first met Beverly at the Disney Gallery a week after I started working on the construction of Splash Mountain. She so reminded me of my late grandmother, cheery, vibrant and so much fun to talk to. We quickly bonded as I know so many others had before and since. I would visit her during lunch breaks and we would talk about everything, from the VIPs she entertained that week to queries about Splash Mountain and all the secrets inside. When I had guests in the park I always made a point that they had to meet my friend Beverly. Afterwards many would return to the park and make a point to drop by the store to say “Hi” and have a little chat.
One of my best memories was the day that I took her on a hard-hat tour of the still incomplete Splash Mountain. Weeks afterwards, she was still telling everyone what a wonderful time she had and all the things she saw. That was in 1989. Fourteen years later my wife and I attended her retirement party at Café Orleans. It was a wonderful event, organized by Brett Tomberlin. The highlight was a presentation to “Bev” of her own Main Street style “window.” Disney artist Stacia Martin, who had worked with Beverly at the Disney Gallery, painted the following:
“Mme. Beverly’s Galerie d’Art
Fine Art and Antiques
Superior Service for Over 35 Years
Beverly J. Butrum, Proprietress
Truly ‘One-of-a-Kind’! ”
Also a poem was recited and presented by Lynn Sexsmith, based on memories of Bev by dozens of her co-workers (Mahalo to David Koenig for originally posting this).
“Bye Bye Bev”
We’ve gathered here to say “farewell” and do it all in rhyme.
Let’s wave “good-bye” to our dear friend, a legend in her time!
In the Spring of ’67, after Walt had passed away,
Bev Butrum joined our Disney Cast and decided she would stay!
New Orleans Square was opened the same year Bev arrived,
And everyone remembers her as being so alive!
A storytelling expert, she kept us entertained,
With stories of her family, our attention never waned!
She’d speak about Hawaii and daughter Michelle as just a tyke,
How proud she was of daughter Kim, son Craig, and husband Mike.
She’d paint a lovely picture and was the envy of all she knew.
It made us want to move on in and be her family, too!
The stock crew in New Orleans OH… remembers how Bev WAS
In the old One-of-a-Kind Shop and the buzzer that she’d buzz!
They labeled it “Bev’s Buzzer” and it never seemed to stop!
They almost ripped it off the wall to hand it to her in the shop!
Returning from her breaks each day, visits to the Perfume Shop she’d include.
Then back to her location…WHEW! The smell of “Chloe” would exude!
It caused us a few good headaches, making some of us feel ill.
It’s burned into our nostrils and we think we smell it still!
There were days spent with Iola, they would laugh and chitty-chat,
While entertaining Pam, who wore a fancy custom hat!
One day, as she has told us, much to her great joy,
She got to take a picture with Walt Disney’s brother, Roy!
Years later, after Roy had died, come the shocker of her life,
When she received that picture from none other than Roy’s wife!
’87 was the year The Disney Gallery was born,
And Bev was there to greet the guests on that July 11 morn.
Young, or old, or famous, Bev shined with Disney class.
The warmth she shared was genuine, and we hate to see it pass.
Michael Jackson she would tend to, regardless of his fame,
And befriended “Doogie Howser, ” Neil P. Harris was his name.
She was known for her good memory and the names she’d not forget.
She’d chat as if she knew you, even though you’ve never met!
She shared her expertise with all, her love of Disney art.
Helped some add to their collections, and made others want to start!
When guests would make their purchases, she’d bubble-wrap then taut.
So well, in fact, they’d look at it and forget what they had bought!
We remember all those late-night breaks Val Hardin used to take,
Beneath the counter cash wrap with some coffee she would make!
The APs caught on quickly and would ask if Val was there.
But Bev would say, “She’s on a break, ten minutes would be fair! ”
She’s molded oh so many, and scared just one or two.
But once they got to know her, their awe of her just grew!
So now, our friend, we honor you with love and hugs and poem,
And each would like to shake your hand before we head for home.
You are a Disney Legend, that’s in our history book,
Who’s really irreplaceable, believe us, we have looked!
We could go on forever, but our time together ends.
We raise our glass to sadly say “good-bye” to you, our friend!
But as you scan this one last time and pass right out our door,
Rest assured you’re in our hearts, you’re part of Disney lore!
The Gallery won’t be the same without your smiling face,
But the values you’ve instilled in us aren’t easily erased!
Old friends who come to visit now will need not shed a tear,
Because through us, they all will know, Bev Butrum has been here!